February 20, 2001

Giles fit, for now at least

England breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday when Ashley Giles, their premier spinner, was able to bowl 19 overs without any adverse reaction to his Achilles tendon injury. With two days remaining to the start of the Test match Giles is now looking forward to challenge ahead. He realises, however, that the injury needs to be addressed soon if his long-term future is not to be jeopardised.

Ashley Giles
Ashley Giles - fit for test
Photo Leo de Lisle

Speaking to the media after England's practice today, he said: "I have had the injury for three years and have continued to play cricket on it. It was more sore than normal last Thursday, but with the help of 'Deano' (the team physio) it settled down again and its now manageable."

According to the left arm spin bowler: "Leaving the field the other day was precautionary. We wanted to have it checked up and make sure it didn't get any worse."

Giles conceded 83 runs from his 19 overs spell and Duncan Fletcher felt he was thinking more about his tendon than he was on his bowling. Giles agrees: "It is difficult because it is there in your subconscious. I didn't think I bowled that well that day, but I don't want to put it just down to that. I was also feeling a little bit rusty."

Now, however, he says: "This is a huge five days ahead of us and I have got to try and put it out of my head. I have just to get on with the business and bowl as well as I can." He draws strength from the fact that, "I have never been in a position where I have broken down completely because of my Achilles and not bowled again in the game."

Giles realises though that the injury needs attention: "There will have to come a point when I get it right otherwise I am not going to do myself any favours. It is getting to a stage when the jabbing is no longer an option and we have to look at other avenues.

"In the long term I will have to give it some rest and do some strengthening exercises, but at the moment, with so much cricket, I have just got to try and get on with it."

Taking time off though is not easy: "There is never a good time to take two or three months off. Even if you have a few months between a winter tour and the season you have to put the work in the gym and indoor centre."

Giles is happy to be considered an important player in the side: "It is nice to have a little bit of attention and quite surprising as well. Everyone has their eyes on me all the time, it feels that every step I take is going to be written down. Now I have had a taste of international cricket, I just want to keep playing and I don't want this to set me back too far."

He dismissed suggestions, however, that England need him to match Muttiah Muralitharan wicket for wicket like he did Saqlain Mushtaq in Pakistan: "I Won't put myself in Murali's category. He is a world-class bowler and it would be a bit unfair on me if I were to put myself under pressure to match him wicket for wicket during the Test series."